The Call Of The City – Episode 47

Allison Hay © Meg joins her sister and daughter in New York Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

They were here!

Nerves fluttered in Juliet’s stomach as she heard Grace at the door, fumbling with her keys.

She stood up, pressing one hand against her middle as she switched on a couple of lights.

Lately, any bright light made her head ache, but she didn’t want to see her sister for the first time in decades in the dark.

It had been so good of Meg to agree to come all this way, especially when Juliet hadn’t been the sister she should have been.

The door opened. Grace came in first, bringing Meg’s suitcase.

“Aunt Juliet?”

“In here.” Juliet’s voice sounded thin and papery.

She tried again.

“I’m in the living-room. I’ll put the kettle on.”

Before she could move, Meg appeared in the doorway. She looked older, of course, just as Juliet knew she did.

Both of them a bit grey, wrinkled and careworn, but still essentially the same.

Or not. How much had either of them changed?

“Meg.” Tears smarted Juliet’s eyes. “Meg!”

“Oh, Juliet!” Meg crossed the room in three strides.

Then, to Juliet’s amazement and relief, her older sister was pulling her into a hug. It felt both strange and nice to be in Meg’s embrace, surrounded by her warmth.

“Sorry, am I hurting you?” Meg asked anxiously as she stepped back.

“No, no. I’m fine. Fine.” Juliet wiped her eyes. “Thank you so much for coming.”

“Thank you for asking me, Juliet.” Meg looked at her seriously. “After all these years, it must have taken some courage.”


“I’ll put the kettle on,” Grace said quietly, and slipped out of the room.

The sisters stared at each other.

“I don’t know where to begin.” Juliet let out a shaky laugh.

“Nor me.” Meg shook her head. “This feels so strange, yet right, too.”

“Yes.” Juliet blinked back tears. “Yes, very right.”

Grace brought in a tray.

“It’s so good to see you both here, together.”

“It’s been a long time,” Meg agreed as she sat down. “Will you pour, Grace?”

Juliet knew there were things that needed to be said about the past, and the way she’d left all those years ago. Things that hurt and that made her scared to say out loud.

But was now, when her whole life was in the balance, the time to say them?

And if not now, when?

“Your surgery is tomorrow?” Meg said once they all had cups of tea.

“Yes, I have to be there at six in the morning for all the checks and things.

“The surgery itself is six hours, which seems long.”

Juliet let out a breath.

“Of course, they can’t say what the outcome will be until they’ve operated. Whether the tumour can be removed; whether I’ll…”

Juliet’s voice broke as she looked down and tried to keep the tears from falling. They fell anyway.

“Oh, Juliet.”

In a flash Meg was off her chair and by Juliet, putting her arms around her sister.

“I can’t imagine what you’re feeling. It must be so scary. I’m sorry.”

“I am scared,” Juliet confessed, “but more because of what I might miss.” She took a breath. “All those years, Meg!”

“It doesn’t matter.” Meg shook her head fiercely. “Honestly, it doesn’t.”

“It does,” Juliet insisted.

She needed to say this, even if it was hard. Especially if it was hard.

“I should have reached out. There were so many opportunities – when you married Andrew; when Kerry and Grace came along…”

“I could have done the same,” Meg protested. “I was angry.”

“I never should have left the way I did, choosing my life over yours –”

“You were young. You deserved a chance at happiness.”

“And you didn’t?”

Meg smiled through her tears.

“I found it after all, Juliet. Yes, it was hard nursing Dad after Mum had died, all on my own. I felt you’d dumped me in it, it’s true.

“But through it I met Andrew. He was a training doctor in the hospital where Dad ended up. I can’t regret anything.”

She paused.

“That’s not true. I regret not reaching out to you, and making it better between us long ago.”

“Me, too,” Juliet whispered. “As the years went on, it just became harder and harder to do, and I told myself it was better this way, that we’d become too different.

“But I never really believed it.”

“I did the same,” Meg confessed. “It felt easier, and I suppose it was, in a way. But in the end it just hurt us both.”

Juliet smiled.

“I’m so glad you’re here.”

Meg smiled back, hugging her again.

“So am I.”

To be continued…

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.